DHIR MALL (1627-1677), the elder son of Baba Gurditta and a grandson of Guru Hargobind, was born at Kartarpur, now in Jalandhar district of the Punjab, on 10 January 1627. From his early years, he was prone to stubbornness which trait became stronger as he grew up. He stayed behind in Kartarpur when Guru Hargobind moved along with the family to Kiratpur. At the death, in 1638, of his father, Baba Gurditta, he did not go to Kiratpur to attend the obsequies, nor did he part with the original volume of the Adi Granth which had been left at Kartarpur at the time of Guru Hargobind`s migration to Kiratpur and which had to be recited as part of the rites.

When Guru Hargobind named Har Rai, his (Dhir Mall`s) younger brother, as his successor in the spiritual line, he set himself as Guru at Kartarpur and appointed his own masands, or ministers, to collect tithes. He made friends with Ram Rai who had been anathematized by his father, Guru Har Rai, for garbling a line from the Holy Writ, and together they took complaints to the Mughal emperor, Aurangzib, challenging especially the installation of Guru Har Krishan as successor to Guru Har Rai. Guru Har Krishan`s sudden illness and death at Delhi in March 1664 gave Dhir Mall another chance to stake his claim to the gurgaddi, i.e. the spiritual seat of the Gurus.

He installed himself at Bakala as successor to Guru Har Krishan and, when Guru Tegh Bahadur was formally anointed Guru, he turned an enemy. He conspired with one of his masands, Shihan, who one day fired at Guru Tegh Bahadur, but missed the target. His men attacked the Guru`s house and ransacked it unchecked. Makkhan Shah, one of Guru Tegh Bahadur`s followers, retaliated by pillaging Dhir Mall but the Guru had everything returned to him, including the old volume of the Holy Book and what had been plundered from his own home. Dhir Mall remained unrepentant and continued to attract followers who formed a sect of their own.

A few months after the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Dhir Mall was also summoned to Delhi by Emperor Aurangzib and was imprisoned in the Fort at Ranthambhor, where he died on 16 November 1677. His descendants, the Sodhis of Kartarpur, are still in possession of the original copy of the Adi Granth prepared under the direction of Guru Arjan. The shrine at Kartarpur dedicated to the founder of the sect is known as Dera Dhir Mall.

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